The Prime Minister
Part 5 out of 16
'I think he will go. I've no doubt about it. He is to go after
'And will give up his seat?'
The Duke did not answer her immediately. It had only just been
decided,--decided by his friend and himself,--that the seat
should be given up when the journey to Persia was undertaken. Mr
Grey, somewhat in opposition to the Duke's advice, had resolved
that he could not be in Persia and do his duty in the House of
Commons at the same time. But this resolution had only now been
made known to the Duke, and he was rather puzzled to think how
the Duchess had been able to be so quick upon him. He had,
indeed, kept the matter back from the Duchess, feeling that she
would have something to say about it, which might possibly be
unpleasant, as soon as the tidings should reach her. 'Yes,' he
said, 'I think he will give up his seat. That is his purpose,
though I think it is unnecessary.'
'Let Mr Lopez have it.'
'Yes,--he is a clever man, a rising man, a man who is sure to do
well, and who will be of use to you. Just take the trouble to
talk to him. It is assistance of that kind that you want. You
Ministers go on shuffling the old cards till they are so worn out
and dirty that one can hardly tell the pips on them.'
'I am one of the dirty old cards myself,' said the Duke.
'That's nonsense, you know. A man who is at the head of affairs
as you are can't be included among the pack I am speaking of.
What you want is new blood, or new wood, or new metal, or
whatever you may choose to call it. Take my advice and try this
man. He isn't a pauper. It isn't money that he wants.'
'Cora, your geese are all swans.'
'That's not fair. I have never brought to you a goose yet. My
swans have been swans. Who was it brought you and your pet swan
of all, Mr Grey, together? I won't name any names, but it is
your swans have been geese.'
'It is not for me to return a member for Silverbridge.' When he
said this, she gave him a look which almost upset even his
gravity, a look which was almost the same as asking him whether
he would not--"tell it to the marines." 'You don't quite
understand these things, Cora,' he continued. 'The influence
which owners of property may have in boroughs is decreasing every
day, and there arises the question whether a conscientious man
will any longer use such influence.'
'I don't think you'd like to see a man from Silverbridge opposing
you in the House.'
'I may have to bear worse even than that.'
'Well;--there it is. The man is here and you have the
opportunity of knowing him. Of course I have not hinted at the
matter to him. If there were any Palliser wanted the borough I
wouldn't say a word. What more patriotic thing can a patron do
with his borough than to select a man who is unknown to him, not
related to him, a perfect stranger, merely for his worth?'
'But I do not know what may be the worth of Mr Lopez.'
'I will guarantee that,' said the Duchess. Whereupon the Duke
laughed, and then left her.
The Duchess had spoken with absolute truth when she told her
husband that she had not said a word to Mr Lopez about
Silverbridge, but it was not long before she did say a word. On
that same day she found herself alone with him in the garden,--
or so much alone as to be able to speak with him privately. He
had certainly made the best use of his time since he had been at
the Castle, having secured the good-will of many of the ladies,
and the displeasure of most of the men. 'You have never been in
Parliament, I think,' said the Duchess.
'I have never even tried to get there.'
'Perhaps you dislike the idea of that kind of life.'
'No, indeed,' he said. 'So far from it, that I regard it as the
highest kind of life there is in England. A seat in Parliament
gives a man a status in this country which it has never done
'Then why don't you try it?'
'Because I've got into another groove. I've become essentially a
City man,--one of those men who take up the trade of making
'And does that content you?'
'No, Duchess;--certainly not. Instead of contenting me, it
disgusts me. Not but that I like the money,--only it is so
insufficient a use of one's life. I suppose I shall try to get
into Parliament some day. Seats in Parliament don't grow like
blackberries on bushes.'
'Pretty nearly,' said the Duchess.
'Not in my part of the country. These good things seem to be
appointed to fall in the way of some men, and not of others. If
there were a general election going on to-morrow, I should not
know how to look for a seat.'
'They are to be found sometimes even without a general election.'
'Are you alluding to anything now?'
'Well;--yes, I am. But I'm very discreet, and do not like to do
more than allude. I fancy that Mr Grey, the member for
Silverbridge, is going to Persia. Mr Grey is a Member of
Parliament. Members of Parliament ought to be in London and not
in Persia. It is generally supposed that no man in England is
more prone to do what he ought to do than Mr Grey. Therefore, Mr
Grey will cease to be Member for Silverbridge. That's logic,
'Has your Grace any logic equally strong to prove that I can
follow him in the borough?'
'No;--or if I have, the logic that I should use in that matter
must for the present be kept to myself.' She certainly had a
little syllogism in her head as to the Duke ruling the borough,
the Duke's wife ruling the Duke, and therefore the Duke's wife
ruling the borough; but she did not think it prudent to utter
this on the present occasion. 'I think it much better that men
in Parliament should be unmarried,' said the Duchess.
'But I am going to be married,' said he.
'Going to be married, are you?'
'I have no right to say so, because the lady's father has
rejected me.' Then he told her the whole story, and so told it
as to secure her entire sympathy. In telling it he never said
that he was a rich man, he never boasted that that search after
wealth of which he had spoken, had been successful; but he gave
her to understand that there was no objection to him at all on
the score of money. 'You may have heard of the family,' he said.
'I have heard of the Whartons of course, and know that there is a
baronet,--but I know nothing more of them. He is not a man of
large property, I think.'
'My Miss Wharton, the one I would fain call mine,--is the
daughter of a London barrister. He, I believe, is rich.'
'Then she will be an heiress.'
'I suppose so;--but that consideration has had no weight with
me. I have always regarded myself as the architect of my own
fortune, and have no wish to owe my material comfort to a wife.'
'Sheer love!' suggested the Duchess.
'Yes, I think so. It's very ridiculous, is it not?'
'And why does the rich barrister object?'
'The rich barrister, Duchess, is an out and out old Tory, who
thinks that his daughter ought to marry no one but an English
Tory. I am not exactly that.'
'A man does not hamper his daughter in these days by politics,
when she is falling in love.'
'There are other cognate reasons. He does not like a foreigner.
Now I am an Englishman, but I have a foreign name. He does not
think a name so grandly Saxon as Wharton should be changed to one
so meanly Latin as Lopez.'
'The lady does not object to the Latinity?'
'I fancy not.'
'Or to the bearer of it.'
'Ah;--there I must not boast. But in simple truth there is only
the father's ill-will between us.'
'With plenty of money on both sides?' asked the Duchess. Lopez
shrugged his shoulders. A shrug at such a time may mean
anything, but the Duchess took this shrug as signifying that that
question was so surely settled as to admit of no difficulty.
'Then,' said the Duchess, 'the old gentleman may as well give way
at once. Of course his daughter will be too many for him.' In
this way the Duchess of Omnium became the best friend of
ST JAMES'S PARK.
Towards the end of September Everett Wharton and Ferdinand Lopez
were in town together, and as no one else was in town,--so at
least they professed to say,--they saw a good deal of each
other. Lopez, as we know, had spent a portion of the preceding
month at Gatherum Castle, and had made good use of his time, but
Everett Wharton had been less fortunate. He had been a little
cross with his father, and perhaps a little cross with all the
Whartons generally, who did not, he thought, make quite enough of
him. In the event of 'anything happening' to that ne'er-do-well
nephew, he himself would be the heir; and he reflected not
unfrequently that something very probably might happen to the
nephew. He did not often see this particular cousin, but he
always heard of him as being drunk, overwhelmed with debt and
difficulty, and altogether in that position in life in which it
is probable that something will 'happen'. There was always of
course the danger that the young man might marry and have a
child;--but in the meantime surely he, Everett Wharton, should
have been as much thought of on the banks of the Wye as Arthur
Fletcher. He had been asked down to Wharton Hall,--but he had
been asked in a way which he had no thought to be flattering and
declined to go. Then there had been a plan for joining Arthur
Fletcher in a certain shooting, but that had failed in
consequence of a few words between himself and Arthur respecting
Lopez. Arthur had wanted him to say that Lopez was an
unpardonable intruder,--but he had taken the part of Lopez, and
therefore, when the time came round, he had nothing to do with
the shooting. He had stayed in town till the middle of August,
and had then started by himself across the continent with some
keen intention of studying German politics; but he had found
perhaps that German politics do not manifest themselves in the
autumn, or that a foreign country cannot be well studied in
solitude,--and he had returned.
Late in the summer, just before his father and sister had left
town, he had had some words with the old barrister. There had
been a few bills to be paid, and Everett's allowance had been
insufficient. It often was insufficient, and then ready money
for his German tour was absolutely necessary. Mr Wharton might
probably have said less about the money had not his son
accompanied his petition by a further allusion to Parliament.
'There are some fellows at last really getting themselves
together at the Progress, and of course it will be necessary to
know who will be ready to come forward at the next general
'I think I know one who won't,' said the father, 'judging from
the manner in which he seems at present to manage his own money
affairs.' There was more severity in this than the old man had
intended, for he had often thought within his own bosom whether
it would not be well that he should encourage his son to stand
for some seat. And the money that he had now been asked to
advance had not been very much,--not more, in truth, than he
expected to be called upon to pay in addition to the modest sum
which he professed to allow his son. He was a rich man, who was
not in truth made unhappy by parting with his money. But there
had been, he thought, an impudence in the conjoint attack which
it was his duty to punish. Therefore he had given his son very
'Of course, sir, if you tell me that you are not inclined to pay
anything beyond the allowance you make me, there is an end of
'I rather think that you just asked me to pay a considerable sum
beyond your allowance, and that I have consented.' Everett
argued the matter no further, but he permitted his mind to
entertain an idea that he was ill-used by his father. The time
would come when he would probably be heir not only to his
father's money, but also to the Wharton title and the Wharton
property,--when his position in the country would really be, as
he frequently told himself, quite considerable. Was it possible
that he should refrain from blaming his father for not allowing
him to obtain, early in life, that parliamentary education which
would fit him to be an ornament to the House of Commons, and a
safeguard to his country in future years?
Now he and Lopez were at the Progress together, and they were
almost the only men in the club. Lopez was quite contented with
his own present sojourn in London, he had not only been at
Gatherum Castle but he was going there again. And then he had
brilliant hopes before him,--so brilliant that they began, he
thought, to assume the shape of certainties. He had corresponded
with the Duchess, and he had gathered from her somewhat dubious
words that the Duke would probably accede to her wishes in the
matter of Silverbridge. The vacancy had not yet been declared.
Mr Grey was deterred, no doubt by certain high State purposes,
from applying for the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, and
thereby releasing himself from his seat in Parliament, and
enabling himself to perform, with a clear conscience, duties in a
distant part of the world which he did not feel to be compatible
with that seat. The seekers after seats were, no doubt, already
on the track; but the Duchess had thought that as far as the
Duke's good word went, it might possibly be given in favour of Mr
Lopez. The happy aspirant had taken this to be almost as good as
a promise. There were also certain pecuniary speculations on
foot, which could not be kept quiet even in September, as to
which he did not like to trust entirely to the unaided energy of
Mr Sextus Parker, or to the boasted alliance of Mr Mills
Happerton. Sextus Parker's whole heart and soul were now in the
matter, but Mr Mills Happerton, an undoubted partner in Husky and
Sons, had blown a little coldly on the affair. But in spite of
this Ferdinand Lopez was happy. Was it probable that Mr Wharton
should continue his opposition to a marriage which would make his
daughter the wife of a member of Parliament and of a special
friend of the Duchess of Omnium?
He had said a word about his own prospect in reference to the
marriage, but Everett had been at first far too full of his own
affairs to attend much to a matter which was comparatively so
'Upon my word,' he said, 'I am beginning to feel angry with the
governor, which is a kind of thing I don't like at all.'
'I can understand that when he's angry with you, you shouldn't
'I don't mind that half so much. He'll come round. However
unjust he may be now, at the moment, he's the last man in the
world to do an injustice in his will. I have thorough confidence
in him. But I find myself driven into hostility to him by a
conviction that he won't let me take any real step in life, till
my life has been half frittered away.'
'You're thinking of Parliament.'
'Of course I am. I don't say to you ain't an Englishman, but you
are not quite enough of an Englishman to understand what
Parliament is to us.'
'I hope to be;--some of these days,' said Lopez.
'Perhaps you may. I won't say but what you may get yourself
educated to it when you've been married a dozen years to an
English wife, and have half-a-dozen English children of your own.
But, in the meantime, look at my position. I am twenty-eight
'I am four years your senior.'
'It does not matter a straw to you,' continued Everett. 'But a
few years are everything with me. I have a right to suppose that
I may be able to represent the county,--say in twenty years. I
shall probably then be the head of the family and a rich man.
Consider what a parliamentary education would be to me! And then
it is just the life for which I have laid myself out, and in
which I could make myself useful. You don't sympathize with me,
but you might understand me.'
'I do both. I think of going into the House myself.'
'Yes, I do.'
'You must have changed your ideas very much then within the last
month or two.'
'I have changed my ideas. My one chief object in life is, as you
know, to marry your sister; and if I were a Member of Parliament
I think that some difficulties would be cleared away.'
'But there won't be an election for the next three years at my
rate,' said Everett Wharton, staring at his friend. 'You don't
mean to keep Emily waiting for a dissolution?'
'There are occasional vacancies,' said Lopez.
'Is there a chance of anything of that kind falling in your way?'
'I think there is. I can't quite tell you all the particulars
because other people are concerned, but I don't think it
improbable that I may be in the House before--; well, say in
three months' time.'
'In three months' time!' exclaimed Everett, whose mouth was
watering at the prospects of a friend. 'That is what comes from
going to stay with a Prime Minister, I suppose,' Lopez shrugged
his shoulders. 'Upon my word I can't understand you,' continued
the other. 'It was only the other day you were arguing in this
very room as to the absurdity of a parliamentary career,--
pitching into me, by George, like the very mischief, because I
had said something in its favour,--and now you are going in for
it yourself in some sort of mysterious way that a fellow can't
understand.' It was quite clear that Everett Wharton thought
himself ill-used by his friend's success.
'There is no mystery;--only I can't tell people's names.'
'What is the borough?'
'I cannot tell you that at present.'
'Are you sure there will be a vacancy?'
'I think I am sure,'
'And that you will be invited to stand?'
'I am not sure of that.'
'Of course anybody can stand whether invited or not.'
'If I come forward for this place I shall do so on the very best
interest. Don't mention it. I tell you because I already regard
my connection with you as being so close as to call upon me to
tell you anything of that kind.'
'And yet you do not tell me the details.'
'I tell you all that I can in honour tell.'
Everett Wharton certainly felt aggrieved by his friend's news,
and plainly showed that he did so. It was so hard that if a
stray seat in Parliament were going a-begging, it should be
thrown in the way of this man who didn't care for it, and
couldn't use it to any good purpose. Instead of in his own way!
Why should anyone want Ferdinand Lopez to be in Parliament?
Ferdinand Lopez had paid no attention to the great political
questions of the Commonwealth. He knew nothing of Labour and
Capital, of Unions, Strikes, and Lockouts. But because he was
rich, and, by being rich, had made his way among great people, he
was to have a seat in Parliament! As for the wealth, it might be
at his own command also,--if only his father could be got to see
the matter in a proper light. And as for the friendship of great
people,--Prime Ministers, Duchesses, and such like,--Everett
Wharton was quite confident that he was at any rate as well
qualified to shine among them as Ferdinand Lopez. He was of too
good a nature to be stirred to injustice against his friend by
the soreness of this feeling. He did not wish to rob his friend
of his wealth, of his Duchesses, or of his embryo seat in
Parliament. But for the moment there came upon him a doubt
whether Ferdinand was so very clever, or so peculiarly
gentlemanlike or in any way very remarkable, and almost a
conviction that he was very far from being good-looking.
They dined together, and quite late in the evening they strolled
out into St James's Park. There was nobody in London, and there
was nothing for either of them to do, and therefore they agreed
to walk round the park, dark and gloomy as they knew the park
would be. Lopez had seen and had quite understood the bitterness
of spirit by which Everett had been oppressed, and with that
peculiarly imperturbable good humour which made part of his
character bore it all, even with tenderness. He was a man, as
are many of his race, who could bear contradictions, unjust
suspicions, and social ill-treatment without a shadow of
resentment, but who, if he had a purpose, could carry it without
a shadow of a scruple. Everett Wharton had on this occasion made
himself very unpleasant, and Lopez had borne with him as an angel
would hardly have done; but should Wharton ever stand in his
friend's way, his friend would sacrifice him without compunction.
As it was Lopez bore with him, simply noting in his own mind that
Everett Wharton was a greater ass than he had taken him to be.
It was Wharton's idea that they should walk around the park, and
Lopez for a time had discouraged the suggestion. 'It is a
wretchedly dark place at night, and you don't know whom you may
'You don't mean to say that you are afraid to walk round St
James's Park with me because it's dark!' said Wharton.
'I certainly should be afraid by myself, but I don't know that I
am afraid with you. But what's the good?'
'It's better than sitting here doing nothing, without a soul to
speak to. I've already smoked half-a-dozen cigars, till I'm so
muddled I don't know what I'm about. It's so hot one can't walk
in the day, and this is just the time for the exercise.' Lopez
yielded, being willing to yield in almost anything at present to
the brother of Emily Wharton; and though the thing seemed to him
to be very foolish, they entered the park by St James's Palace,
and started to walk round it, turning to the right and going in
front of Buckingham Palace. As they went on Wharton still
continued his accusation against his father, and said also some
sharp things against Lopez himself, till his companion began to
think that the wine he had drunk had been as bad as the cigars.
'I can't understand your wanting to go into Parliament,' he said.
'What do you know about it?'
'If I get there, I can learn like anybody else, I suppose.'
'Half of those who go there don't learn. They are, as it were,
born to it, and they do very well to support this party or that.'
'And why shouldn't I support this party,--or that?'
'I don't suppose you know which party you would support,--except
that you'd vote for the Duke, if, as I suppose, you are to get in
under the Duke's influence. If I went into the House I should go
with a fixed and settled purpose of my own.'
'I'm not there yet,' said Lopez, willing to drop the subject.
'It will be a great expense to you, and will stand altogether in
the way of your profession. As far as Emily is concerned, I
should think my father would be dead against it.'
'Then he would be unreasonable.'
'Not at all, if he thought you would injure your professional
prospects. It is a d-d piece of folly; that's the long and the
short of it.'
This certainly was very uncivil, and it almost made Lopez angry.
But he had made up his mind that his friend was a little the
worse for the wine he had drunk, and therefore he did not resent
even this. 'Never mind politics and Parliament now,' he said,
'but let us get home. I am beginning to be sick of this. It's
so awfully dark, and whenever I do hear a step, I think somebody
is coming to rob us. Let us get on a bit.'
'What the deuce are you afraid of?' said Everett. They had then
come up the greater part of the length of the Birdcage Walk, and
the lights on Storey's Gate were just visible, but the road on
which they were then walking was very dark. The trees were black
over their heads, and not a step was heard near them. At this
time it was just midnight. Now, certainly, among the faults
which might be justly attributed to Lopez, personal cowardice
could not be reckoned. On this evening he had twice spoken of
being afraid, but the fear had simply been that which ordinary
caution indicates; and his object had been that of hindering
Wharton in the first place from coming into the park, and then of
getting him out of it as quickly as possible.
'Come along,' said Lopez.
'By George, you are in a blue funk,' said the other. 'I can hear
your teeth chattering.' Lopez, who was beginning to be angry,
walked on and said nothing. It was too absurd, he thought, for
real anger, but he kept a little in front of Wharton, intending
to show that he was displeased. 'You had better run away at
once,' said Wharton.
'Upon my word. I shall begin to think you're tipsy,' said Lopez.
'Tipsy!' said the other. 'How dare you say such a thing to me?
You never in your life say me in the least altered by anything I
Lopez knew that at any rate this was untrue. 'I've seen you as
drunk as Cloe before now,' said he.
'That's a lie,' said Wharton.
'Come, Wharton,' said the other, 'do not disgrace yourself by
conduct such as that. Something has put you out, and you do not
know what you are saying. I can hardly imagine that you should
wish to insult me.'
'It was you insulted me. You said I was drunk. When you said it
you knew it was untrue.'
Lopez walked on a little way in silence, thinking over this most
absurd quarrel. Then he turned round and spoke. 'This is all
the greatest nonsense I have ever heard in the world. I'll go on
and go to bed, and to-morrow morning you'll think better of it.
But pray remember that under no circumstances should you call a
man a liar, unless on cool consideration you are determined to
quarrel with him for lying, and determined also to see the
'I am quite ready to see this quarrel out.'
'Good night,' said Lopez, starting off at a quick pace. They
were then close to the turn in the park, and Lopez went on till
he had nearly reached the park front of the new offices. As he
had walked he had listened to the footfall of his friend, and
after a while had perceived, or had thought that he perceived
that the sound was discontinued. It seemed to him that Wharton
had altogether lost his senses;--the insult to himself had been
so determined and so absolutely groundless! He had striven his
best to conquer the man's ill-humour by good-natured forbearance,
and had only suggested that Wharton was perhaps tipsy in order to
give him some excuse. But if his companion were really drunk, as
he now began to think, could it be right to leave him unprotected
in the park? The man's manner had been strange the whole
evening, but there had been no sign of the effect of wine till
after they had left the club. But Lopez had heard of men who had
been apparently sober, becoming drunk as soon as they got into the
air. It might have been so in this case, though Wharton's voice
and gait had not been those of a drunken man. At any rate, he
would turn back and look after him, and as he did turn back, he
resolved that whatever Wharton might say to him on this night he
would not notice. He was too wise to raise a further impediment
to his marriage by quarrelling with Emily's brother.
As soon as he paused he was sure that he heard footsteps behind
him which were not those of Everett Wharton. Indeed, he was sure
that he heard the footsteps of more than one person. He stood
still for a moment to listen, and then he distinctly heard a rush
and a scuffle. He ran back to the spot at which he had left his
friend, and at first thought that he perceived a mob of people in
the dusk. But as he got nearer, he saw that there were a man and
two women. Wharton was on the ground on his back, and the man
was apparently kneeling on his neck and head while the women were
rifling his pockets. Lopez, hardly knowing how he was acting,
was upon them in a moment, flying in the first place at the man,
who had jumped up to meet him as he came. He received at once a
heavy blow on his head from some weapon, which, however, his hat
so far stopped as to save him from being felled or stunned, and
then he felt another blow from behind on the ear, which he
afterwards conceived to have been given him by one of the women.
But before he could well look about him, or well know how the
whole thing had happened, the man and the two women had taken to
their legs, and Wharton was standing on his feet leaning against
the iron railings.
The whole thing had occupied a very short space of time, and yet
the effects were very grave. At the first moment Lopez looked
round and endeavoured to listen, hoping that some assistance
might be near,--some policeman, or, if not that, some wanderer
by night who might be honest enough to help him. But he could
near or see no one. In this condition of things it was not
possible for him to pursue the ruffians, as he could not leave
his friend leaning against the park rails. It was at once
manifest to him that Wharton had been much hurt, or at any rate
incapacitated for immediate exertion, by the blows he had
received;--and as he put his hand up to his own head, from which
in the scuffle his hat had fallen, he was not certain that he was
not severely hurt himself. Lopez could see that Wharton was very
pale, that his cravat had been almost wrenched from his neck by
pressure, that his waistcoat was torn open and the front of his
shirt soiled,--and he could see also that a fragment of the
watch-chain was hanging loose, showing that the watch had gone.
'Are you hurt much?' he said, coming close up and taking a tender
hold of his friend's arm. Wharton smiled and shook his head, but
spoke not a word. He was in truth more shaken, stunned, and
bewildered than actually injured. The ruffian's fist had been at
his throat, twisting his cravat, and for half a minute he had
felt that he was choked. As he had struggled while one woman
pulled at his watch and the other searched for his purse,--
struggling alas unsuccessfully,--the man had endeavoured to
quiet him by kneeling on his chest, strangling him with his own
necktie, and pressing hard on his gullet. It is a treatment
which, after a few seconds of vigorous practice, is apt to leave
the patient for a while disconcerted and unwilling to speak.
'Say a word if you can,' whispered Lopez, looking into the other
man's face with anxious eyes.
At the moment there came across Wharton's mind a remembrance that
he had behaved very badly to is friend, and some sort of vague
misty doubt whether all this evil had not befallen because of his
misconduct. But he knew at the same time the Lopez was not
responsible for the evil, and dismayed as he had been, still he
recalled enough of the nature of the struggle in which he had
been engaged, to be aware that Lopez had befriended him
gallantly. He could not even yet speak; but he saw the blood
trickling down his friend's temple and forehead, and lifting up
his hand, touched the spot with his fingers. Lopez also put his
had up, and drew it away covered with blood. 'Oh,' said he,
'that does not signify in the least. I got a knock, I know, and
I am afraid I have lost my hat, but I'm not hurt.'
'Oh, dear!' The word was uttered with a low sigh. Then there
was a pause, during which Lopez supported the sufferer. 'I
thought that it was all over with me at one moment.'
'You will be better now.'
'Oh, yes. My watch is gone!'
'I fear it is,' said Lopez.
'And my purse,' said Wharton, collecting his strength together
sufficiently to search for his treasures. 'I had eight 5-pound
notes in it.'
'Never mind your money or your watch if your bones are not
'It's a bore all the same to lose every shilling that one has.'
Then they walked very slowly away towards the steps at the Duke
of York's column. Wharton regaining his strength as he went, but
still able to progress by leisurely. Lopez had not found his
hat, and, being covered with blood, was, as far as appearances
went, in a worse plight than the other. At the foot of the steps
they met a policeman, to whom they told their story, and who, as
a matter of course, was filled with an immediate desire to arrest
them both. To the policeman's mind it was most distressing that
a bloody faced man without a hat, with a companion almost too
weak to walk, should not be conveyed to a police-station. But
after ten minutes' parley, during which Wharton sat on the bottom
step and Lopez explained all the circumstances, he consented to
get them a cab to take their address, and then to go alone to the
station and make his report. That the thieves had got off with
their plunder was only too manifest. Lopez took the injured man
home to the house in Manchester Square, and then returned in the
same cab, hatless, to his own lodgings.
As he returned he applied his mind to think how he could turn the
events of the evening to his own use. He did not believe that
Everett Wharton was severely hurt. Indeed there might be a
question whether in the morning his own injury would not be the
most severe. But the immediate effect on the flustered and
despoiled unfortunate one had been great enough to justify Lopez
in taking strong steps if strong steps could in any way benefit
himself. Would it be best to publish this affair on the house-
tops, or to bury it in the shade, as nearly as it might be
buried? He had determined in his own mind that his friend had
been tipsy. In no other way could his conduct be understood.
And a row with a tipsy man at midnight in the park is not, at
first sight, creditable. But it could be made to have a better
appearance if told by himself, than if published from other
quarters. The old housekeeper at Manchester Square must know
something about it, and would, of course, tell what she knew, and
the loss of money and the watch must in all probability be made
known. Before he had reached his own door had had quite made up
his mind that he himself would tell the story after his own
And he told it, before he went to bed that night. He washed the
blood from his face and head, and cut away a part of the clotted
hair, and then wrote a letter to old Mr Wharton at Wharton Hall.
And between three and four o'clock in the morning he went out and
posted his letter in the nearest pillar, so that it might go down
by the day mail and certainly preceded by other written doings.
The letter which he sent was as follows:
DEAR MR WHARTON
I regret to have to send to you an account of a rather
serious accident which has happened to Everett. I am
now writing at 3 am, having just taken him home, and it
occurred about midnight. You may be quite sure that
there is no danger, or I should have advertised you by
There is nothing doing in town, and therefore, as the
night was fine, we, very foolishly, agreed to walk round
St James's Park late after dinner. It is a kind of thing
that nobody does;--but we did it. When we had nearly got
round I was in a hurry, whereas Everett was for
strolling slowly, and so I went before him. But I was
hardly two hundred yards in front of him before he was
attacked by three persons, a man and two women. The man
I presume came upon him from behind, but he has not
sufficiently collected his thoughts to remember exactly
what occurred. I heard the scuffle, and of course turned
back,--and was luckily in time to get up before he was
seriously hurt. I think the man would otherwise have
strangled him. I am sorry to say he lost both his watch and
He undoubtedly been very much shaken, and altogether
'knocked out of time,' as people say. Excuse the phrase,
because I think it will best explain what I want you to
understand. The man's hand at his throat must have
stopped his breathing for some seconds. He certainly has
received no permanent injury, but I should not wonder if
he should be unwell for some days. I tell you all
exactly as it occurred, as it strikes me that you may like
to run up to town for a day just to look at him. But you
need not do so on the score of any danger. Of course he
will see a doctor to-morrow. There did not seem to be
any necessity for calling up one to-night. We did give
notice to the police as we were coming home, but I fear
the ruffians had ample time for an escape. He was too
weak and I was too fully employed with him, to think of
pursuing them at the time.
Of course he is at Manchester Square
Most faithfully yours
He did not say a word about Emily, but he knew that Emily would
see the letter and would perceive that he had been the means of
preserving her brother; and, in regard to the old barrister
himself. Lopez thought that the old man could not but feel
grateful for his conduct. He had in truth behaved very well to
Everett. He had received a heavy blow on the head in young
Wharton's defence,--of which he was determined to make good use,
though he had thought it expedient to say nothing about the blow
in the letter. Surely it was all help. Surely the paternal mind
would be softened towards him when the father should be made to
understand how great had been the service to the son. That
Everett would make little of what had been done for him de did
not in the least fear. Everett Wharton was sometimes silly but
was never ungenerous.
In spite of his night's work Lopez was in Manchester Square
before nine the following morning, and on the side of his brow he
bore a great patch of black plaster. 'My head is very thick,' he
said laughing, when Everett asked after his wound. 'But it would
have gone badly with me if the ruffian had struck an inch lower.
I suppose my hat saved me, though I remember very little. Yes,
old fellow, I have written to your father, and I think he will
come up. It was better that it should be so.'
'There is nothing the matter with me,' said Everett.
'One didn't quite know last night whether there was or no. At
any rate his coming won't hurt you. It's always well to have
your banker near you, when your funds are low.'
Then after a pause Everett made his apology,--'I know I made a
great ass of myself last night.'
'Don't think about it.'
'I used a word I shouldn't have used, and I beg your pardon.'
'Not another word, Everett. Between you and me things can't go
wrong. We love each other too well.'
The letter given in the previous chapter was received at Wharton
Hall late in the evening of the day on which it was written, and
was discussed among all the Whartons that night. Of course there
was no doubt as to the father's going up to town on the morrow.
The letter was just such a letter as would surely make a man run
to his son's bedside. Had the son written himself it would have
been different; but the fact that the letter had come from
another man seemed to be evidence that the poor sufferer could
not write. Perhaps the urgency with which Lopez had sent off his
dispatch, getting his account of the fray ready for the very
early day mail, though the fray had not taken place till
midnight, did not impress them sufficiently when they accepted
this as evidence of Everett's dangerous condition. At this
conference at Wharton very little was said about Lopez, but there
was a general feeling that he had behaved well. 'It was very odd
that they should have parted in the park,' said Sir Alured. 'But
very lucky that they should not have parted sooner,' said John
Fletcher. If a grain of suspicion against Lopez might have been
set afloat in their minds by Sir Alured's suggestion, it was
altogether dissipated by John Fletcher's reply;--for everybody
there knew that John Fletcher carried common sense for the two
families. Of course they all hated Ferdinand Lopez, but nothing
could be extracted from the incident, as far as its details were
yet known to them, which could be turned to his injury.
While they sat together discussing the matter in the drawing-room
Emily Wharton hardly said a word. She uttered a little shriek
when the account of the affair was first read to her, and then
listened with silent attention to what was said around her. When
there had seemed for a moment to be a doubt,--or rather a
question, for there had been no doubt,--whether her father
should go at once to London, she had spoken just a word. 'Of
course you will go, papa.' After that she said nothing till she
came to him in his own room. 'Of course I will go with you
'I don't think that will be necessary.'
'Oh, yes. Think how wretched I should be.'
'I would telegraph to you immediately.'
'And I shouldn't believe the telegraph. Don't you know how it
always is? Besides we have been more than the usual time. We
were to go to town in ten days, and you would not think of
returning to fetch me. Of course I will go with you. I have
already begun to pack my things, and Jane is now at it.' Her
father, not knowing how to oppose her, yielded, and Emily before
she went to bed had made the ladies of the house aware that she
also intended to start the next morning at eight o'clock.
During the first part of the journey very little was said between
Mr Wharton and Emily. There were other persons in the carriage,
and she, though she had determined in some vague way that she
would speak some words to her father before she reached their own
house, had still wanted time to resolve what those words should
be. But before she had reached Gloucester she had made up her
mind, and going on from Gloucester she found herself for a time
alone with her father. She was sitting opposite to him, and
after conversing for a while she touched his knee with her hand.
'Papa,' she said, 'I suppose I must now have to meet Mr Lopez in
'Why should you have to meet Mr Lopez?'
'Of course he will come there to see Everett. After what has
occurred you can hardly forbid him the house. He has saved
'I don't know that he has done anything of the kind,' said Mr
Wharton, who was vacillating between different opinions. He did
in his heart believe that the Portuguese whom he so hated had
saved his son from the thieves, and he also had almost come to
the conviction that he must give his daughter to the man,--but
at the same time he could not as yet bring himself to abandon his
opposition to the marriage.
'Perhaps you think the story is not true.'
'I don't doubt the story in the least. Of course one man sticks
to another in such an affair, and I have no doubt that Mr Lopez
behaved as any English gentleman would.'
'Any English gentleman, papa, would have to come afterwards and
see the friend he had saved. Don't you think so?'
'Oh yes,--he might call.'
'And Mr Lopez will have an additional reason for calling,--and I
know he will come. Don't you think he will come?'
'I don't want to think anything about it,' said the father.
'But I want you to think about it, papa. Papa, I know you are
not indifferent to my happiness.'
'I hope you know it.'
'I do know it. I am quite sure of it. And therefore I don't
think you ought to be afraid to talk to me about what must
concern my happiness so greatly. As far as my own self and my
own will are concerned I consider myself as given away to Mr
Lopez already. Nothing but his marrying some other woman,--or
his death,--would make me think of myself as otherwise than as
belonging to him. I am not a bit ashamed of owning my love--to
you or to him, if the opportunity were allowed me. I don't think
there should be concealment about anything so important between
people who are so dear to each other. I have told you that I
will do whatever you bid me about him. If you say that I shall
not speak to him or see him I will not speak to him or see him--
willingly. You certainly need not be afraid that I should marry
without your leave.'
'I am not in the least afraid of it.'
'But I think you should think over what you are doing. And I am
quite sure of this,--that you must tell me what I am to do in
regard to receiving Mr Lopez in Manchester Square.' Mr Wharton
listened attentively to what his daughter said to him, shaking
his head from time to time as though almost equally distracted by
her passive obedience and by her passionate protestations of
love; but he said nothing. When she had completed her
supplication he threw himself back in His seat and after a while
took his book. It may be doubted whether he read much, for the
question as to his girl's happiness was quite as near his heart
as she could wish it to be.
It was late in the afternoon before they reached Manchester
Square, and they were both happy to find that they were not
troubled by Mr Lopez at the first moment. Everett was at home
and in bed, and had not indeed as yet recovered the effect of the
man's knuckles at his windpipe; but he was well enough to assure
his father and sister that they need not have disturbed
themselves or hurried their return from Hertfordshire on his
account. 'To tell the truth,' said he, 'Ferdinand Lopez was more
hurt than I was.'
'He said nothing of being hurt himself,' said Mr Wharton.
'How was he hurt?' asked Emily in the quietest, stillest voice.
'The fact is,' said Everett, beginning to tell the whole story
after his own fashion, 'if he hadn't been at hand then, there
would have been an end of me. We had separated, you know--'
'What could make two men separate from each other in the darkness
of St James's Park?'
'Well,--to tell you the truth, we had quarrelled. I had made an
ass of myself. You need not go into that any further, except
that you should know that it was all my fault. Of course it
wasn't a real quarrel,'--when he said this Emily, who was
sitting close to his bed-head, pressed his arm under the clothes
with her hand,--'but I had said something rough, and he had gone
on just to put an end to it.'
'It was uncommonly foolish,' said the old Wharton. 'It was very
foolish going round the park at that time of night.'
'No doubt, sir,--but it was my doing. And if he had not gone
with me, I should have gone alone.' Here there was another
pressure. 'I was a little low in spirits, and wanted the walk.'
'But how is he hurt?' asked the father.
'The man who was kneeling on me and squeezing the life out of me
jumped up when he heard Lopez coming, and struck him over the
head with a bludgeon. I heard the blow, though I was pretty well
done for at the time myself. I don't think they hit me, but they
got something round my neck, and I was half strangled before I
knew what they were doing. Poor Lopez bled horribly, but he says
he is none the worse for it.' Here there was another little
pressure under the bed-clothes; for Emily felt that her brother
was pleading for her in every word that he said.
About ten on the following morning Lopez came and asked for Mr
Wharton. He was shown into the study, where he found the old
man, and at once began to give his account of the whole concern
in an easy, unconcerned manner. He had the large black patch on
the side of the head, which had been so put on as almost to
become him. But it was so conspicuous as to force a question
concerning it from Mr Wharton. 'I am afraid you got rather a
sharp knock yourself, Mr Lopez?'
'I did get a knock, certainly;--but the odd part of it is that I
knew nothing about it till I found the blood in my eyes after
they had decamped. But I lost my hat, and there is a rather long
cut just above the temple. It hasn't done me the slightest harm.
The worst of it was that they got off with Everett's watch and
'Had he much money?'
'Forty pounds!' And Lopez shook his head, thereby signifying
that forty pounds at the present moment was more than Everett
Wharton could afford to lose. Upon the whole he carried himself
very well, ingratiating himself with the father, raising no
question about the daughter, and saying as little as possible
about himself. He asked whether he could go up and see his
friend, and or course was allowed to do so. A minute before he
entered the room Emily left it. They did not see each other. At
any rate he did not see her. But there was a feeling with both
of them that the other was close,--and there was something
present to them, almost amounting to conviction, that the
accident of the park robbery would be good for them.
'He certainly did save Everett's life,' Emily said to her father
the next day.
'Whether he did or not, he did his best,' said Mr Wharton.
'When one's dearest relation is concerned,' said Emily, 'and when
his life has been saved, one feels that one has to be grateful
even if it has been an accident. I hope he knows, at any rate,
that I am grateful.'
The old man had not been a week in London before he knew that he
had absolutely lost the game. Mrs Roby came back to her house
round the corner, ostensibly with the object of assisting her
relatives in minding Everett,--a purpose for which she certainly
was not needed, but, as the matter progressed, Mr Wharton was not
without suspicion that her return had been arranged by Ferdinand
Lopez. She took upon herself, at any rate, to be loud in the
praise of the man who had saved the life of her 'darling nephew',
--and to see that others also should be loud in his praise. In a
little time all London had heard of the affair, and it had been
discussed out of London. Down at Gatherum Castle the matter had
been known,--but the telling of it had always been to the great
honour and glory of the hero. Major Pountney had almost broken
his heart over it, and Captain Gunner, writing to his friend from
the Curragh, had asserted his knowledge that it was all a 'got-
up' thing between the two men. The "Breakfast Table" and the
"Evening Pulpit" had been loud in praise of Lopez, but the
"People's Banner", under the management of Mr Quintus Slide, had
naturally thrown down much suspicion on the incident when it
became known to the Editor that Ferdinand Lopez had been
entertained by the Duke and Duchess of Omnium. 'We have always
felt some slight doubts as to the details of the affair said to
have happened about a fortnight ago, just at midnight, in St
James's Park. We should be glad to know whether the policemen
have succeeded in tracing any of the stolen property, or whether
any real attempt to trace it has been made.' This was one of the
paragraphs, and it was hinted still more plainly afterwards that
Everett Wharton, being short of money, had arranged the plan with
the view or opening his father's purse. But the general effect
was certainly serviceable to Lopez. Emily Wharton did believe
him to be a hero. Everett was beyond measure grateful to him,--
not only for having saved him from the thieves, but also for
having told nothing of his previous folly. Mrs Roby always
alluded to the matter as if, for all coming ages, every Wharton
ought to acknowledge that gratitude to a Lopez was the very first
duty of life. The old man felt the absurdity of much of this,
but still it offended him. When Lopez came he could not be rough
to the man who had done a service to his son. And then he found
himself compelled to do something. He must either take his
daughter away, or he must yield. But his power of taking his
daughter away seemed to be less than it had been. There was an
air of quiet, unmerited suffering about her, which quelled him.
And so he yielded.
It was after this fashion. Whether affected by the violence of
the attack made upon him, or from other cause, Everett had been
unwell after the affair, and had kept his room for a fortnight.
During this time Lopez came to see him daily, and daily Emily
Wharton had to take herself out of the man's way, and hide
herself from the man's sight. This she did with much tact, and
with lady-like quietness, but not without an air of martyrdom,
which cut her father to the quick. 'My dear,' he said to her one
evening, as she was preparing to leave the drawing-room on
hearing his knock, 'stop and see him if you like it.'
'I don't want to make you wretched. If I could have died first,
and got out of the way, perhaps it would have been better.'
'Papa, you will kill me if you speak in that way! If there is
anything to say to him, do you say it.' And then she escaped.
Well! It was an added bitterness, but no doubt it was his duty.
If he did intend to consent to the marriage, it was certainly for
him to signify that consent to the man. It would not be
sufficient that he should get out of the way and leave his girl
to act for herself as though she had no friend in the world. The
surrender which he had made to his daughter had come from a
sudden impulse at the moment, but it could not now be withdrawn.
So he stood out on the staircase, and when Lopez came up on his
way to Everett's bedroom, he took him by the arm and led him into
the drawing-room. 'Mr Lopez,' he said, 'you know that I have not
been willing to welcome you into my house as a son-in-law. There
are reasons on my mind,--perhaps prejudices,--which are strong
against it. They are as strong now as ever. But she wishes it,
and I have the utmost reliance on her constancy.'
'So have I,' said Lopez.
'Stop a moment, if you please, sir. In such a position a
father's thought is only to his daughter's happiness and
prosperity. It is not his own that he should consider. I hear
you well spoken of in the outer world, and I do not know that I
have a right to demand of my daughter that she should tear you
from her affections, because--because you are not just such as I
would have her husband to be. You have my permission to see
her.' Then before Lopez could say a word, he left the room, and
took his hat and hurried away to his club.
As he went he was aware that he had made no terms at all;--but
then he was inclined to think that no terms could be made. There
seemed to be a general understanding that Lopez was doing well in
the world,--in a profession of the working of which Mr Wharton
himself knew absolutely nothing. He had a large fortune at his
own bestowal,--intended for his daughter,--which would have
been forthcoming at the moment and paid down on the nail, had she
married Arthur Fletcher. The very way in which the money should
be invested and tied up and made to be safe and comfortable to
the Fletcher-cum-Wharton interests generally, had been fully
settled among them. But now this other man, this stranger, this
Portuguese had entered upon the inheritance. But the stranger,
the Portuguese, must wait. Mr Wharton knew himself to be an old
man. She was his child, and he would not wrong her. But she
should have her money closely settled upon herself on his death,
--and on her children, should she then have any. It should be
done by his will. He would say nothing about money to Lopez, and
if Lopez should, as was probable, ask after his daughter's
fortune, he would answer to this effect. Thus he almost resolved
that he would give his daughter to the man without any inquiry as
to the man's means. The thing had to be done, and he would take
no further trouble about it. The comfort of his life was gone.
His home would no longer be a home to him. His daughter could
not now be his companion. The sooner that death came to him the
better, but till death should come he must console himself as
well as he could by playing whist at the Eldon. It was after
this fashion that Mr Wharton thought of the coming marriage
between his daughter and her lover.
'I have your father's consent to marry your sister,' said
Ferdinand immediately on entering Everett's room.
'I knew it must come soon,' said the invalid.
'I cannot say that it has been given in the most gracious manner,
--but it has been given very clearly. I have his express
permission to see her. Those were his last words.'
Then there was a sending of notes between the sick-room and the
sick man's sister's room. Everett wrote and Ferdinand wrote, and
Emily wrote,--short lines each of them,--a few words scrawled.
The last from Emily was as follows:--'Let him go into the
drawing-room. EW.' And so Ferdinand went down to meet his love,
--to encounter her for the first time as her recognized future
husband and engaged lover. Passionate, declared, and thorough as
was her love for this man, the familiar intercourse between them
had hitherto been very limited. There had been little,--we may
perhaps say none,--of that dalliance between them which is so
delightful to the man and so wondrous to the girl till custom
staled the edge of it. He had never sat with her arm around her
waist. He had rarely held even her hand in his for a happy
recognized pause of a few seconds. He had never kissed even her
brow. And there she was now, standing before him, all his own,
absolutely given to him, with the fullest assurance of love on
her part, and with the declared consent of her father. Even he
had been a little confused as he opened the door,--even he, as
he paused to close it behind him, had to think how he would
address her, and perhaps had thought in vain. But he had not a
moment for any thought after entering the room. Whether it was
his doing or hers he hardly knew, but she was in his arms, and
her lips were pressed to his, and his arms was tight around her
waist, holding her close to his breast. It seemed as though all
that was wanting had been understood in a moment, and as though
they had lived together and loved for the last twelve months,
with the fullest mutual confidence. And she was the first to
'Ferdinand, I am so happy! Are you happy?'
'My love, my darling!'
'You have never doubted me, I know,--since you first knew it.'
'Doubted you, my girl!'
'That I would be firm! And now papa has been good to me, and how
quickly one's sorrow is over. I am yours, my love, for ever and
ever. You knew it before, but I like to tell you. I will be
true to you in everything! Oh, my love!'
He had but little to say to her, but we know that for "lovers
lacking matter, the cleanliest shift is to kiss." In such
moments silence charms, and almost any words are unsuitable
except those soft, bird-like murmurings of love which, sweet as
they are to the ear, can hardly be so written as to be sweet to
The engagement was made in October, and the marriage took place
in the latter part of November. When Lopez pressed for an early
day,--which he did very strongly,--Emily raised no difficulties
in the way of his wishes. The father, foolishly enough, would at
first have postponed it, and made himself so unpleasant to Lopez
by his manner of doing this, that the bride was driven to take
her lover's part. As the thing was to be done, what was to be
gained by the delay? It could not be made a joy to him; nor,
looking at the matter as he looked at it, could he make a joy
even of her presence during the few intervening weeks. Lopez
proposed to take his bride into Italy for the winter months, and
to stay there at any rate through December and January, alleging
that he must be back in town by the beginning of February;--and
this was taken as a fair plea for hastening the marriage.
When the matter was settled, he went back to Gatherum Castle, as
he had arranged to do with the Duchess and managed to interest
her Grace in all his proceedings. She promised that she would
call on his bride in town, and even went so far as to send her a
costly wedding present. 'You are sure she has got money?' said
'I am not sure of anything,' said Lopez,--'except this, that I
do not mean to ask a single question about it. If he says
nothing to me about money, I certainly shall say nothing to him.
My feeling is this, Duchess, that I am not marrying Miss Wharton
for her money. The money, if there be any, has had nothing to do
with it. But of course it will be a pleasure added if it be
there.' The Duchess complimented him, and told him that this was
exactly as it should be.
But there was some delay as to the seat of Silverbridge. Mr
Grey's departure for Persia had been postponed,--the Duchess
thought only for a month or six weeks. The Duke, however, was of
the opinion that Mr Grey should not vacate his seat till the day
of his going was at any rate fixed. The Duke, moreover, had not
made any promise of supporting his wife's favourite. 'Don't set
your heart upon it too much, Mr Lopez,' the Duchess had said;
'but you may be sure I will not forget you.' Then it had been
settled between them that the marriage should not be postponed,
or the promised trip to Italy abandoned, because of the probable
vacancy at Silverbridge. Should the vacancy occur during his
absence, and should the Duke consent, he could return at once.
All this occurred in the last week or two before his marriage.
There were various little incidents which did not tend to make
the happiness of Emily Wharton complete. She wrote to her cousin
Mary Wharton, and also to Lady Wharton;--and her father wrote to
Sir Alured; but the folk at Wharton Hall did not give their
adherence. Old Mrs Fletcher was still there, but John Fletcher
had gone home to Longbarns. The obduracy of the Whartons might
probably be owing to these two accidents. Mrs Fletcher declared
aloud, as soon as the tidings reached her, that she never wished
to see or hear anything more of Emily Wharton. 'She must be a
girl,' said Mrs Fletcher, 'of an ingrained vulgar taste.' Sir
Alured, whose letter from Mr Wharton had been very short, replied
as shortly to his cousin. 'Dear Abel,--We all hope that Emily
will be happy, though of course we regret the marriage.' The
father, though he had not himself written triumphantly, or even
hopefully,--as fathers are wont to write when their daughters
are given away in marriage,--was wounded by the curtness and
unkindness of the baronet's reply, and at the moment declared to
himself that he would never go to Hertfordshire any more. But on
the following day there came a worse blow than Sir Alured's
single line. Emily, not in the least doubting but that her
request would be received with the usual ready assent, had asked
Mary Wharton to be one of the bridesmaids. It must be supposed
that the answer to this was written, if not under the dictation,
at any rate under the inspiration, of Mrs Fletcher. It was as
Of course we all wish you to be very happy in your
marriage; but equally of course we are all disappointed.
We had taught ourselves to think you would have bound
yourself closer with us down here, instead of separating
yourself entirely from us.
Under all the circumstances mamma thinks it would not be
wise for me to go up to London as one of your
Your affectionate cousin
This letter made poor Emily very angry for a day or two. 'It is
as unreasonable as it is ill-natured,' she said to her brother.
'What else could you expect from a stiff-necked, prejudiced set
of provincial ignoramuses?'
'What Mary says is not true. She did not think I was going to
bind myself closer with them, as she calls it. I have been quite
open with her, and have always told her that I could not be
Arthur Fletcher's wife.'
'Why on earth should you marry to please them?'
'Because they don't know Ferdinand and are determined to insult
him. It is an insult never to mention even his name. And to
refuse to come to my marriage! The world is wide and there is
room for us and them; but it makes me unhappy,--very unhappy,--
that I should have to break with them.' And then tears came into
her eyes. It was intended, no doubt, to be a complete breach,
for not a single wedding present was sent from Wharton Hall to
the bride. But from Longbarns,--from John Fletcher himself,--
there did come an elaborate coffee-pot, which, in spite of its
inutility and ugliness, was very valuable to Emily.
But there was one other of her old Hertfordshire friends who
received the tidings of her marriage without quarrelling with
her. She herself had written to her old lover.
MY DEAR ARTHUR,
There has been so much true friendship and affection
between us that I do not like that you should hear from
anyone by myself the news that I am to be married to Mr
Lopez. We are to be married on the 28th November,--this
To this she received a very short reply.
I am as I always have been.
He sent her no present, nor did he say a word beyond this; but in
her anger against the Hertfordshire people she never included
Arthur Fletcher. She pored over the little note a score of
times, and wept over it, and treasured it up among her most
inmost treasures, and told herself that it was a thousand pities.
She could talk, and did talk, to Ferdinand about the Whartons,
and about old Mrs Fletcher, and described to him the arrogance
and the stiffness and the ignorance of the Hertfordshire
squirearchy generally; but she never spoke to him of Arthur
Fletcher,--except in that one narrative of her past life, in
which, girl-like, she told her lover of the one other lover who
had loved her.
But these things of course gave a certain melancholy to the
occasion which perhaps was increased by the season of the year,--
by the November fogs, and by the emptiness and general sadness of
the town. And added to this was the melancholy of old Mr Wharton
himself. After he had given his consent to the marriage he
admitted a certain amount of intimacy with his son-in-law, asking
him to dinner, and discussing with him matters of general
interest,--but never, in truth, opening his heart to him.
Indeed, how can any man open his heart to one whom he dislikes?
At best he can only pretend to open his heart, and even this Mr
Wharton would not do. And very soon after the engagement Lopez
left London and went to the Duke's place in the country. His
objects in doing this and his aspirations in regard to a seat in
Parliament were all made known to his future wife,--but he said
not a word on the subject to her father; and she, acting under
his instructions, was equally reticent. 'He will get to know me
in time,' he said to her, 'and his manner will be softened
towards me. But till that time shall come, I can hardly expect
him to take a real interest in my welfare.'
When Lopez left London not a word had been said between him and
his father-in-law as to money. Mr Wharton was content with such
silence, not wishing to make any promise as to immediate income
from himself, pretending to look at the matter as though he
should say that, as his daughter had made herself her own bed,
she must lie on it, such as it might be. And this silence
certainly suited Ferdinand Lopez at the time. To tell the truth
of him--though he was not absolutely penniless, he was altogether
propertyless. He had been speculating in money without capital,
and though he had now and again been successful, he had also now
and again failed. He had contrived that his name should be
mentioned here and there with the names of well-known wealthy
commercial men, and had for the last twelve months made up a
somewhat intimate alliance with that very sound commercial man Mr
Mills Happerton. But his dealings with Mr Sextus Parker were in
truth much more confidential than those with Mr Mills Happerton,
and at the present moment poor Sexty Parker was alternately
between triumph and despair as things this way or that.
It was not therefore surprising that Ferdinand Lopez should
volunteer no statements to the old lawyer about money, and that
he should make no inquiries. He was quite confident that Mr
Wharton had the wealth which was supposed to belong to him, and
was willing to trust his power of obtaining a fair portion of it
as soon as he should in truth be Mr Wharton's son-in-law.
Situated as he was, of course, he must run some risk. And then,
too, he had spoken of himself with a grain of truth when he had
told the Duchess that he was not marrying for money. Ferdinand
Lopez was not an honest man or a good man. He was a self-
seeking, intriguing adventurer, who did not know honesty from
dishonesty when he saw them together. But he had at any rate
this good about him, that he did love the girl whom he was about
to marry. He was willing to cheat all the world,--so that he
might succeed, and make a fortune, and become a big and rich man;
but he did not wish to cheat her. It was his ambition to carry
her up with him, and he thought how he might best teach her to
assist him in doing so,--how he might win her to help him in his
cheating, especially in regard to her own father. For to
himself, to his own thinking, that which we call cheating was not
dishonesty. To this thinking there was something bold, grand,
picturesque, and almost beautiful in the battle which such a one
as himself must wage with the world before he could make his way
up in it. He would not pick a pocket or turn a false card, or,
as he thought, forge a name. That which he did, and desired to
do, took with the name of speculation. When he persuaded poor
Sexty Parker to hazard his all, knowing well that he induced the
unfortunate man to believe what was false, and to trust what was
utterly untrustworthy, he did not himself think that he was going
beyond the limits of fair enterprise. Now, in his marriage, he
had in truth joined himself to real wealth. Could he only
command at once that which he thought ought to be his wife's
share of the lawyer's money, he did not doubt but that he could
make a rapid fortune. It would not do for him to seem to be
desirous of money a day before the time;--but, when the time
should come, would not his wife help him in his great career?
But before she could do so she must be made to understand
something of the nature of his career, and of the need of such
Of course there arose the question where they should live. But
he was ready with an immediate answer to this question. He had
been to look at a flat,--a set of rooms,--in the Belgrave
Mansions, in Pimlico, or Belgravia you ought more probably to
call it. He proposed to take them furnished till they could look
about at their leisure and get a house that should suit them.
Would she like a flat? She would have liked a cellar with him,
and so she told him. Then they went to look at the flat, and old
Mr Wharton condescended to go with them. Though his heart was
not in the business, still he thought he was bound to look after
his daughter's comfort. 'They are very handsome rooms,' said Mr
Wharton, looking round upon the rather gorgeous furniture.
'Oh, Ferdinand, are they too grand?'
'Perhaps they are a little more than we quite want just at
present,' he said. 'But I'll tell you sir, just how it happened.
A man I know wanted to let them for one year, just as they are,
and offered them to me for 450 pounds,--if I could pay the money
in advance, at the moment. And so I paid it.'
'You have taken them then?' said Mr Wharton.
'Is it all settled?' said Emily, almost with disappointment.
'I have paid the money, and I have so far taken them. But it is
by no means settled. You have only to say you don't like them,
and you shall never be asked to put your foot in them again.'
'But I do like them,' she whispered to him.
'The truth is, sir, that there is no slightest difficulty in
parting with them. So that when the chance came in my way I
thought it best to secure the thing. It had all to be done, so
to say, in an hour. My friend,--as far as he was a friend, for I
don't know much about him,--wanted the money and wanted to be
off. So here they are, and Emily can do as she likes.' Of
course the rooms were regarded from that moment as the home for
the next twelve months of Mr and Mrs Ferdinand Lopez.
And then they were married. The marriage was by no means a gay
affair, the chief management of it falling into the hands of Mrs
Dick Roby. Mrs Dick indeed provided not only the breakfast,--or
saw rather that it was provided for, for of course Mr Wharton
paid the bill,--but the four bridesmaids also, and all the
company. They were married in the church in Vere Street, then
went back to the house in Manchester Square, and within a couple
of hours were on their road to Dover. Through it all not a word
was said about money. At the last moment,--when he was free
from fear as any questions about his own affairs,--Lopez had
hoped that the old man would say something. 'You will find so
many thousand pounds at your banker's,'--or, 'You may look to me
for so many hundreds a year.' But there was not a word. The
girl had come to him without the assurance of a single shilling.
In his great endeavour to get her he had been successful. As he
thought of this in the carriage, he pressed his arm close round
her waist. If the worst were to come to the worst, he would
fight the world for her. But if this old man should be stubborn,
close-fisted, and absolutely resolved to bestow all his money
upon his son because of the marriage,--ah!--how should he be
able to bear such a wrong as that?
Half-a-dozen times during that journey to Dover, he resolved to
think nothing further about it, at any rate for a fortnight; and
yet, before he reached Dover, he had said a word to her. 'I
wonder what your father means to do about money? He never told
'Does it matter, dear?'
'Not in the least. But of course I have to talk about everything
to you;--and it is odd.'
THE BEGINNING OF THE HONEYMOON.
On the morning of his marriage, before he went to the altar,
Lopez made one or two resolutions as to his future conduct. The
first was that he would give himself a fortnight from his
marriage day in which he would not even think of money. He had
made certain arrangements, in the course of which he had caused
Sextus Parker to stare with surprise and to sweat with dismay,
but which nevertheless were successfully concluded. Bills were
drawn to run over to February, and ready money to a moderate
extent was forthcoming, and fiscal tranquillity was insured for a
certain short period. The confidence which Sextus Parker had
once felt in his friend's own resources was somewhat on the
decline, but he still believed in his friend's skill and genius,
and, after due inquiry, he believed entirely in his friend's
father-in-law. Sextus Parker still thought that things would
come round. Ferdinand,--he always now called his friend by his
Christian name,--Ferdinand was beautifully, seraphically
confident. And Sexty, who had been in a manner magnetized by
Ferdinand, was confident too,--at certain periods of the day.
He was very confident when he had had his two or three glasses of
sherry at luncheon, and he was often delightfully confident with
his cigar and brandy-and-water at night. But there were periods
in the morning in which he would shake with fear and sweat with
But Lopez himself, having with his friend's assistance, arranged
his affairs comfortably for a month or two, had, as a first
resolution, promised himself a fortnight's freedom from all
carking cares. His second resolution had been that at the end of
the fortnight he would commence his operations on Mr Wharton. Up
to the last moment he had hoped,--had almost expected,--that a
sum of money would have been paid to him. Even a couple of
thousand pounds for the time would have been of great use to him;
--but no tender of any kind had been made. Not a word had been
said. Things could not of course go on in that way. He was not
going to play the coward with his father-in-law. Then he
bethought himself how he would act if his father-in-law were
sternly to refuse to do anything for him, and he assured himself
that in such circumstances he would make himself very
disagreeable to his father-in-law. And then his third resolution
had reference to his wife. She must be instructed in his ways.
She must learn to look at the world in his eyes. She must be
taught the great importance of money,--not in a gripping, hard-
fisted, prosaic spirit; but that she might participate in that
feeling of his own which had in it so much that was grand, so
much that was delightful, so much that was picturesque. He would
never ask her to be parsimonious,--never even to be economical.
He would take a glory in seeing her well dressed and well
attended, with her own carriage, and her own jewels. But she
must learn that the enjoyment of these things must be built upon
a conviction that the most important pursuit in the world was the
acquiring of money. And she must be made to understand, first of
all, that she had a right to at any rate a half of her father's
fortune. He had perceived that she had much influence with her
father, and she must be taught to use this influence
unscrupulously on her husband's behalf.
We have already seen that under the pressure of his thoughts he
did break his resolution within an hour or two of his marriage.
It is easy for a man to say that he will banish care, so that he
may enjoy to the full the delights of the moment. But this is a
power which none but a savage possesses,--or perhaps an
Irishman. We have learned the lesson from the divines, the
philosophers, and the poets. Post equitem sedes atra cura. Thus
was Ferdinand Lopez mounted high on his horse,--for he had
triumphed greatly in his marriage, and really felt that the world
could give him no delight so great as to have her beside him, and
her as his own. But the inky devil sat close upon his shoulders.
Where would he be at the end of three months if Mr Wharton would
do nothing for him,--and if a certain venture in guano, to which
he had tempted Sexty Parker, should not turn out the right way?
He believed in the guano and he believed in Mr Wharton, but it is
a terrible thing to have one's whole position in the world
hanging upon either an unwilling father-in-law or a probable rise
in the value of manure. And then how would he reconcile himself
to her if both father-in-law and guano should go against him, and
how should he endure her misery?
The inky devil had forced him to ask the question even before
they had reached Dover. 'Does it matter,' she had asked. Then
for the time he had repudiated his solicitude, and had declared
that no question of money was of much consequence to him,--
thereby making his future task with her so much the more
difficult. After that he said nothing to her on the subject on
that their wedding day,--but he could not prevent himself from
thinking of it. Had he gone to the depth of ruin without a wife,
what would it have mattered? For years past he had been at the
same kind of work,--but while he was unmarried there had been a
charm in the very danger. And as a single man he had succeeded,
being sometimes utterly impecunious, but still with the capacity
of living. Now he had laden himself with a burden of which the
very intensity of his love immensely increased the weight. As
for not thinking of it, that was impossible. Of course she must
help him. Of course she must be taught how imperative it was
that she should help him at once. 'Is there anything troubles
you,' she asked, as she sat leaning against him after their
dinner in the hotel at Dover.
'What should trouble me on such a day as this?'
'If there is anything, tell it me. I do not mean to say now, at
this moment,--unless you wish it. Whatever may be your
troubles, it shall be my present happiness, as it is my first
duty, to lessen them, if I can.'
The promise was very well. It all went in the right direction.
It showed him that she was at any rate prepared to take a part in
the joint work of their life. But, nevertheless, she should be
spared for the moment. 'When there is trouble, you shall be told
everything,' he said, pressing his lips to her brow; 'but there
is nothing that need trouble you yet.' He smiled as he said
this, but there was something in the tone of his voice which told
her that there would be trouble.
When he was in Paris he received a letter from Parker, to whom he
had been obliged to entrust a running address, but from whom he
had enforced a promise that there should be no letter-writing
unless under very pressing circumstances. The circumstances had
not been pressing. The letter contained only one paragraph of
any importance, and that was due to what Lopez tried to regard as
fidgety cowardice on the part of his ally. 'Please to bear in
mind that I can't and won't arrange for the bills for 1,500
pounds due on 3rd of February.' That was the paragraph. Who had
asked him to arrange for these bills? And yet Lopez was well
aware that he intended poor Sexty should 'arrange' for them in
the event of his failure to make arrangements with Mr Wharton.
At last he was quite unable to let the fortnight pass by without
beginning the lessons which his wife had to learn. As for the
first intention as to driving his cares out of his own mind for
that time, he had long since abandoned even the attempt. It was
necessary to him that a reasonable sum of money should be
extracted from the father-in-law, at any rate before the end of
January, and a week or even a day might be of importance. They
had hurried on southwards from Paris, and before the end of the
first week had passed over the Simplon, and were at a pleasant
inn on the shores of the Como. Everything in their travels had
been as yet delightful to Emily. This man, of whom she knew in
truth so little, had certain good gifts,--gifts of intellect,
gifts of temper, gifts of voice and manner and outward
appearance,--which had hitherto satisfied her. A husband who is
also an eager lover must be delightful to a young bride. And
hitherto no lover could have been more tender than Lopez. Every
word and every act, every look and every touch, had been loving.
Had she known the world better she might have felt, perhaps, that
something was expected where so much was given. Perhaps a
rougher manner, with some little touch of marital self-assertion,
might be a safer commencement of married life,--safer to the
wife as coming from her husband. Arthur Fletcher by this time
would have asked her to bring him his slippers, taking infinite
pride in having his little behests obeyed by so sweet a servitor.
That also would have been pleasant to her had her heart in the
first instance followed his image; but now also the idolatry of
Ferdinand Lopez had been very pleasant.
But the moment for the first lesson had come. 'Your father has
not written to you since you started?' he said.
'Not a line. He has not known our address. He is never very
good at letter-writing. I did write to him from Paris, and I
scribbled a few words to Everett yesterday.'
'It is very odd that he should never have written to me.'
'Did you expect him to write?'
'To tell you the truth, I rather did. Not that I should have
dreamed of his corresponding with me had he spoken to me on a
certain subject. But as, on that subject, he never opened his
mouth to me, I almost thought he would write.'
'Do you mean about money?' she asked in a very low voice.
'Well;--yes; I do mean about money. Things hitherto have gone
so very strangely between us. Sit down, dear, till we have a
real domestic talk.'
'Tell me everything,' she said as she nestled herself close to
'You know how it was at first between him and me. He objected to
me violently,--I mean openly, to my face. But he based his
objection solely on my nationality,--nationality and blood. As
to my condition in the world, fortune, or income, he never asked
a word. That was strange.'
'I suppose he thought he knew.'
'He could not have thought he knew, dearest. But it was not for
me to force the subject upon him. You can see that.'
'I am sure whatever you did was right, Ferdinand.'
'He is indisputably a rich man,--one who might be supposed to be
able and willing to give an only daughter a considerable fortune.
Now I certainly had never thought of marrying for money.' Here
she rubbed her face upon his arm. 'I felt that it was not for me
to speak of money. If he chose to be reticent, I could be so
equally. Had he asked me, I should have told him that I had no
fortune, but was making a large though precarious income. It
would then be for him to declare what he intended to do. That
would, I think, have been preferable. As it is we are all in
doubt. In my position a knowledge of what your father intends to
do would be most valuable to me.'
'Should you not ask him?'
'I believe there has always been a perfect confidence between you
'Certainly,--as to all our ways of living. But he never said a
word to me about money in his life.'
'And yet, my darling, money is most important.'
'Of course it is. I know that, Ferdinand.'
'Would you mind asking?' She did not answer him at once, but sat
thinking. And he also paused before he went on with his lesson.
But, in order that the lesson should be efficacious, it would be
so well that he should tell her as much as he could even at this
first lecture. 'To tell you the truth, this is quite essential
to me at present,--very much more than I had thought it would be
when we fixed the day for our marriage.' Her mind within her
recoiled at this, though she was very careful that he should not
feel any such motion in her body. 'My business is precarious.'
'What is your business, Ferdinand?' Poor girl! That she should
have been allowed to marry a man, and than have to ask him such a
'It is generally commercial. I buy and sell on speculation. The
world, which is shy of new words, has not yet given it a name. I
am a good deal at present in the South American trade.' She
listened, but received no glimmering of an idea from his words.
'When we were engaged everything was as bright as roses with me.'
'Why did you not tell me this before,--so that we might have
been more prudent?'
'Such prudence would have been horrid to me. But the fact is
that I should not now have spoken to you at all, but that since
we left England I have had letters from a sort of partner of
mine. In our business things will go astray sometimes. It would
be of great service to me if I could learn what are your father's
'You want him to give you some money at once.'
'It would not be unusual, dear,--when there is money to be
given. But I want you specially to ask him what he himself would
propose to do. He knows already that I have taken a home for you
and paid for it, and he knows,--But it does not signify going
'Tell me everything.'
'He is aware that there are many expenses. Of course if he were
a poor man there would not be a word about it. I can with
absolute truth declare that had he been penniless, it would have
made no difference to my suit to you. But it would possibly have
made some difference as to our after plans. He is a thorough man
of the world, and he must know all that. I am sure he must feel
that something is due to you,--and to me as your husband. But
he is odd-tempered, and, as I have not spoken to him, he chooses
to be silent to me. Now, my darling, you and I cannot afford to
wait and see who can be silent the longest.'
'What do you want me to do?'
'To write to him.'
'And ask him for money?'
'Not exactly in that way. I think you should say that we should
be glad to know what he intends to do, also saying that a certain
sum of money would at present be of use to me.'
'Would it not be better from you? I only ask, Ferdinand. I
never have even spoken to him about money, and of course he would
know that you have dictated what I said.'
'No doubt he would. It is natural that I should do so. I hope
the time may come when I may write quite freely to your
father myself, but hitherto has hardly been courteous to me. I
would rather that you should write,--if you do not mind it.
Write your own letter, and show it me. If there is anything too
much or anything too little I will tell you.'
And so the first lesson was taught. The poor young wife did not
at all like the lesson. Even within her own bosom she found no
fault with her husband. But she began to understand that the
life before her was not to be a life of roses. The first word
spoken to her in the train, before it reached Dover, had
explained something of this to her. She had felt at once that
there would be trouble about money. And now, though she did not
at all understand what might be the nature of those troubles,
though she had derived no information whatever from her husband's
hints about the South American trade, though she was ignorant as
ever of his affairs, yet she felt that the troubles would come
soon. But never for a moment did it seem to her that he had been
unjust in bringing her into troubled waters. They had loved each
other, and therefore, whatever might be the troubles, it was
right that they should marry each other. There was not a spark
of anger against her in her bosom;--but she was unhappy.
He demanded from her the writing of the letter almost immediately
after the conversation which has been given above, and of course
the letter was written,--written and recopied, for the paragraph
about money was, of course, at last of his wording. And she
could not make the remainder of the letter pleasant. The feeling
that she was making a demand for money on her father ran through
it all. But the reader need only see the passage in which
Ferdinand Lopez made his demand,--through her hand.
'Ferdinand has been speaking to me about my fortune.' It had
gone much against the grain with her to write these words, 'my
fortune'. 'But I have no fortune,' she said. He insisted
however, explaining to her that she was entitled to use these
words by her father's undoubted wealth. And so, with an aching
heart, she wrote them. 'Ferdinand has been speaking to me about
my fortune. Of course, I told him I knew nothing, and that as he
had never spoken to me about money before our marriage, I had
never asked about it. He says that it would be of great service
to him to know what are your intentions, and also that he hopes
that you may find it convenient to allow him to draw upon you for
some portion of it at present. He says that 3,000 pounds would
be of great use to him in his business.' That was the paragraph,
and the work of writing it was so distasteful to her that she
could hardly bring herself to form the letters. It seemed as
though she were seizing the advantage of the first moment of
freedom to take a violent liberty with her father.
'It is altogether his own fault, my pet,' he said to her. 'I
have the greatest respect in the world for your father, but he
has allowed himself to fall into the habit of keeping all his
affairs secret from his children; and, of course, as they go into
the world, this secrecy must in some degree be invaded. There is
precisely the same going on between him and Everett; only Everett
is a great deal rougher to him than you are likely to be. He
never will let Everett know whether he is to regard himself as a
rich man or a poor man.'
'He gives him an allowance.'
'Because he cannot help himself. To you he does not do even as
much as that, because he can help himself. I have chosen to
leave it to him and he has done nothing. But this is not quite
fair, and he must be told so. I don't think he could be told in
more dutiful language.'
Emily did not like the idea of telling her father anything which
he might not like to hear; but her husband's behests were to her
in these, her early married, days, quite imperative.
THE END OF THE HONEYMOON.
Mrs Lopez had begged her father to address his reply to her at
Florence, where,--as she explained to him,--they expected to
find themselves within a fortnight from the date of her writing.
They had reached the lake about the end of November, when the
weather had still been fine, but they intended to pass the winter
months of December and January within the warmth of the cities.
That intervening fortnight was to her a period of painful
anticipation. She feared to see her father's handwriting, feeling
almost sure that he would be bitterly angry with her. During
that time her husband frequently spoke to her about the letter,--
about her own letter and her father's reply. It was necessary
that she should learn her lesson, and she could only do so by
having the subject of money made familiar to her ears. It was
not part of his plan to tell her anything of the means by which
he hoped to make himself a wealthy man. The less she knew of
that the better. But the fact that her father absolutely owed to
him a large amount of money as her fortune could not be made too
clear to her. He was very desirous to do this in such a manner
as not to make her think he was accusing her,--or that he would
accuse her if the money was not forthcoming. But she must learn
the fact, and must be imbued with the conviction that her husband
would be the most ill-treated of men unless the money were
forthcoming. 'I am a little nervous about it too,' said he,
alluding to the expected letter;--'not so much as to the money
itself, though that is important; but as to his conduct. If he
chooses simply to ignore us after our marriage, he will be
behaving very badly.' She had no answer to make to this. She
could not defend her father, because by doing so she would offend
her husband. And yet her whole life-long trust in her father
could not allow her to think it possible that he should behave
ill to them.
On their arrival at Florence he went at once to the post-office,
but there was at yet no letter. The fortnight, however, which
had been named had only just run itself out. They went from day
to day inspecting buildings, looking at pictures, making for
themselves a taste in marble and bronze, visiting the lovely
villages which cluster on the hills around the city,--doing
precisely in this respect as do all young married couples who
devote a part of their honeymoon to Florence;--but in all their
little journeyings and in all their work of pleasure the inky
devil sat not only behind him but behind her also. The heavy
care of life was already beginning to work furrows on her face.
She would already sit, knitting her brow, as she thought of
coming troubles. Would not her father certainly refuse? And
would not her husband then begin to be less loving and less
gracious to herself?
Every day for a week he called at the post-office when he went
out with her, and still the letter did not come. 'It can hardly
be possible,' he said at last to her, 'that he should decline to
answer his own daughter's letter.'
'Perhaps he is ill,' she replied.
'If there were anything of that kind Everett would tell us.'
'Perhaps he has gone back to Hertfordshire?'
'Of course his letter would go after him. I own it is very
singular to me that he should not write. It looks as if he were
determined to cast you off from him altogether because you have
married against his wishes.'
'Not that, Ferdinand;--do not say that!'
'Well, we shall see.'
And on the next day they did see. He went to the post-office
before breakfast, and on this day he returned with a letter in
his hand. She was sitting waiting for him with a book in her
lap, and saw the letter at once. 'Is it from papa?' she said.
He nodded his head as he handed it to her. 'Open it and read it,
Ferdinand. I have got to be so nervous about it, that I cannot
do it. It seems to be so important.'
'Yes;--it is important,' he said with a grim smile, and then he
opened the letter. She watched his face closely as he read it,
and at first she could tell nothing from it. Then, in that
moment, it first occurred to her that he had a wonderful command
of his features. All this, however, lasted but half a minute.
Then he chucked the letter, lightly, in among the tea-cups, and
coming to her took her closely in her arms and almost hurt her by
the violence of his repeated kisses.
'Has he written kindly?' she said, as soon as she could find her
breath to speak.
'By George, he's a brick after all. I own I did not think it.
My darling, how much I owe you for all the troubles I have given
'Oh Ferdinand! If he has been good to you, I shall be so happy.'
'He has been awfully good. Ha, ha, ha!' And then he began
walking about the room as he laughed in an unnatural way. 'Upon
my word it is a pity we didn't say four thousand, or five. Think
of his taking me just at my word. It's a great deal better than
I expected; that's all that I can say. And at the present moment
it is of the most importance to me.'
All this did not take above a minute or two, but during that
minute or two she had been so bewildered by his manner as almost
to fancy that the expressions of his delight had been ironical.
He had been so unlike himself as she had known him that she
almost doubted the reality of his joy. But when she took the
letter and read it, she found that his joy was true enough. The
letter was very short, and was as follows:
MY DEAR EMILY,
What you have said under your husband's instruction about
money, I find upon consideration to be fair enough. I
think he should have spoken to me before his marriage;
but then again perhaps I ought to have spoken to him. As
it is, I am willing to give him the sum he requires, and
I will pay 3,000 pounds to his account, if he would tell
me where he would require to have it lodged. Then I shall
think I have done my duty by him. What I shall do with
the remainder of any money that I may have, I do not
think he is entitled to ask.
Everett is well again, and as idle as ever. Your aunt
Roby is making a fool of herself at Harrowgate. I have
heard nothing from Hertfordshire. Everything is quiet
and lonely here.
Your affectionate father
As he had dined at the Eldon every day since his daughter had
left him, and had played on an average a dozen rubbers of whist
daily, he was not justified in complaining the loneliness of
The letter seemed to Emily herself to be very cold, and had not
her husband rejoiced over it so warmly she would have considered
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